On June 29th the US Supreme Court threw out EPA’s coal emissions regulations that if implemented would have forced many utilities to close older coal-fired plants.
The new emissions controls are aimed at mercury and other toxic pollutants which are not removed from stack emissions by current air pollution controls.
The court ruling will require EPA to reconsider the regulations in light of the cost-benefit issue. if it comes forward with new regulations, which are less costly to industry, they will also surely be less stringent in their effects on utilities. Some coal-fired plants will still likely close, and be replaced by gas plants.
However, less pressure on utilities to give up coal plants altogether due to new emissions controls will also reduce interest in Small Modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) as replacements for them.
In the absence of action-forcing mechanisms of one kind or another, few utilities are going to shift from fossil to nuclear just because the science of global warming is established fact.
China in talks with UK’s DECC for $35 Billion in reactor projects
The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, seeing declining prospects for Areva to be able to build 4 1600 MW EPR nuclear reactors, 2 at at Hinkley point and 2 more at Sizewell, has opened talks with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). At stake is a deal potentially worth $35 billion.
China has recently begun exporting its Hualong One, a 1000 MW PWR design with the first order for it placed by Argentina. In addition to CNNC, the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI) is reported to be part of the talks.
A more likely scenario is that Chinese firms are seeking equity positions in the two projects potentially affected by Areva’s need to recapitalize its reactor division. This week EDF appeared to pull back from being an open checkbook for Areva saying it could be weeks or months before a term sheet is prepared for an infusion of about 2 billion euros. Areva is said to need as much as three times that amount to proceed with the UK projects.
France advances options for civil nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia
While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken a “go slow” approach to developing up to 16 nuclear reactors, it has opened talks with France and Russia to potentially build them.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told Reuters June 24 Areva is preparing feasibility studies to provide two 1600 MW EPR reactors. In addition to the reactors, Fabius said KSA also is in talks to sign a nuclear spent fuel management contract and technical support to develop a nuclear regulatory and safety capability for the massive reactor development program.
KSA is seeking to build the 16 reactors at three coastal sites to reduce the amount of of oil and gas it burns to generate electricity thus allocating these supplies for export earnings
Brian Wang made a bet back in 2009 with Michael Dittmar. Dittmar wrote a series of posts about nuclear energy that was published on The Oil Drum in 2009. The bet was about uranium supply running out “civilian uranium stocks are expected to be exhausted during the next few years. The other bet was about the growth of nuclear power generation.
1. World Uranium production (Brian won in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. Lost in 2014)
2. World Nuclear power generation bets going to 2018 (Brian won in 2010, lost 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
3. Uranium production in Kazakhstan (Brian won 2010, 2011)
So out of 13 bets, Brian has won 7 bets and lost 6.
The hangover from Fukushima is costing Brian Wang at Nextbigfuture some of these predictive bets made in 2009 in regards to nuclear power generation and uranium production.
Uranium production was hit by the Ranger mine in Australia shutting down. The indigenous people and the mining company could not come to terms. Africa also had less production. Uranium production is not going up that fast because the price is low. the price is low because of 40 perfectly good reactors being shut down in Japan. Those 40 reactors (and 15 other older ones) would have easily generated 300 TWh. There were also several reactors shutdown prematurely in Germany. None of this has to do with Dittmars central thesis of “running out of producible uranium”.
For 2015, Canada Cameco has started production at Cigar Lake. The Cigar Lake operation is expected to produce 6 million to 8 million pounds of uranium oxide (2308 to 3077 tU) in 2015, ramping up to full annual production rate of 18 million pounds per year (6920 tU) by 2018.
Japan should begin nuclear restarts in August for 2 reactors.
Here is a survey of the world’s nuclear power plants and new plant completions expected out to 2019.
Today there are some 437 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of over 380 GWe. In 2014 these provided 2411 billion kWh, over 11% of the world’s electricity. Over 60 power reactors are currently being constructed in 13 countries plus Taiwan, notably China, South Korea, UAE and Russia.
In Russia, six reactors and two small ones are under active construction, one large one being a large fast neutron reactor. About 30 further reactors are then planned, some to to replace existing plants. This will increase the country’s present nuclear power capacity by 50% by 2030. In addition about 5 GW of nuclear thermal capacity is planned. A small floating power plant is expected to be completed by 2016 and others are planned to follow.
South Korea plans to bring a further further four reactors into operation by 2018, and another eight by about 2030, giving total new capacity of 17,200 MWe. All of these are the Advanced PWRs of 1400 MWe. These APR-1400 designs have evolved from a US design which has US NRC design certification, and four been sold to the UAE (see below).
The United Arab Emirates awarded a $20.4 billion contract to a South Korean consortium to build four 1400 MWe reactors by 2020. The first three are under construction.
India has 21 reactors in operation, and six under construction. This includes two large Russian reactors and a large prototype fast breeder reactor as part of its strategy to develop a fuel cycle which can utilise thorium. Over 20 further units are planned. 18 further units are planned, and proposals for more – including western and Russian designs – are taking shape following the lifting of trade restrictions.
In China, now with 26 operating reactors on the mainland, the country is well into the next phase of its nuclear power program. Some 24 reactors are under construction, including the world’s first Westinghouse AP1000 units, and a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant. Many more units are planned, including two largely indigenous designs – the Hualong One and CAP1400. China aims to more than double its nuclear capacity by 2020.
Reactors with an asterix are already grid connected. So 5 of 12 are already grid connected
China should complete three more nuclear reactors in 2015 to get to 26 Gigawatts of operational nuclear power.
By the end of 2016, China should have 34.5 GW (Adding 8.5 GW in 2016) of operational nuclear power.
By the end of 2017, China should have 43.7 GW (Adding 9.2 GW in 2017) of operational nuclear power.
The end of 2017 would be the completion of the third wave of nuclear power construction.
In 2016, China should be the third largest nuclear power generating country. They will be ahead of Russia. Japan would be third if they turned on all of their nuclear plants.
By 2020, China should have 58GW and will be closing in on second place France with about 63GW. The USA is number one with about 99GW.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.